Saturday, June 07, 2003

embarrassingly American

I just had an embarrassed-to-be-American moment. Tonight at work we had a reception and dinner for a group of IU law students who traveled to Romania, and a bunch of Romanian law students who traveled to the U.S. as part of a legal studies exchange program. Both groups met with judges and senators, watched court proceedings, and sat in on sessions of congress. It wounded like a neat program. At tonight's reception, a Romanian senator was speaking; he had just finished leading the assembly in a moment of silence for the victims of September 11. To honor the American students he was reading a poem, doing each verse in English and Romanian. In the middle of his talk, a person wandering through the mall screamed out, "Go back to France!" and screamed it loud. The senator was a little startled, and after a moment's pause said very graciously, "I would appreciate quiet." Then he continued with the poem. Ignorant, arrogant, rude, and loud: must be American!

I'm no longer surprised by the frequency with which I'm embarrassed to be American. But I still tend to think the best of my countrymen, and even now I'm surprised when this sort of thing happens. When my brother and I were travelling in Europe, we were embarrassed a couple times by our fellow countrymen and women; we even considered putting Canadian flags on our packs so people wouldn't assume we were dumb Americans. We decided not to, to be an example of non-dumb Americans. But it was tempting.

Just a few hours earlier, I was reading a quote from John Stuart Mill. He said that all conservatives weren't necessarily stupid, but most stupid people are conservative.

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

The Palm stays

I've swung the other way on the Palm Pilot debate. I went to CompUSA and played with the newest, coolest Pocket PCs, and I'm really not that impressed. They have some cool features, but a lot of it I don't really need. I'm looking for something that I can use as a text reader, something I can write on, and something that will help me get organized. Turns out, my Palm Pilot does all that, with actual battery life as a bonus. So I'm at least temporarily not going to justify the money for a PocketPC. Anyway, I already have the cool accessories for my Palm: two keyboards, an indestructible case, extra styli, a total of three cradles. I'd hate to have to replace all that on a PocketPC.